Jackson faces more claims of discriminating against Jews
JACKSON — A lawsuit claiming discrimination over a vote banning dorms was amended to include a recent vote about right-of-ways and eruvs.
Agudath Israel of America claimed in its amendment that a September vote by the township council, approving an ordinance clarifying the definition of a right-of-way, represented discrimination against Orthodox Jewish residents who want to put up an eruv.
The Lakewood Scoop first reported the amended lawsuit.
Eruvs were not mentioned in the ordinance, but during discussion before the council vote, the issue was brought up by residents.
The suit claims that both votes represent "deliberate discrimination."
Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of the Agudah’s New Jersey office,said in a statement that the correction of the township's governing body to "township council" was only applied to the right of way ordinance.
“There are probably 200 ordinances on the books that still refer to the ‘Township Committee’ instead of the ‘Township Council’ but this is the only one that they have amended,” Schall said.
Schall said that the newly formed Jackson Eruv Association (JEA) brought 300 people to the September meeting to show how important the issue is to the Jewish community but felt the council did not understand. “At this point, we reluctantly concluded that our only recourse would be in a court of law," Schall said.
The March vote, according to Councilman Barry Balogero, was not directed at a particular race or religion and was intended to preserve the township’s "suburban culture" and limit over development.
Eruvim are symbolic boundaries installed where there are large Orthodox Jewish populations, allowing them to do things like carry keys, push strollers or carry groceries on the Sabbath and on Yom Kippur, when such activity is usually prohibited outside one’s home. They are made of string or wire enclosing the area. In many cases, the eruvim are made of PVC piping attached to utility poles.
Mahwah, which instituted a ban on eruvs being built on utility poles and also limited the use of a public park to state residents, was hit with a suit from Attorney General Christopher Porrino. He said Mahwah illegally targeted the Jewish community from nearby New York.
"Our message to local officials in other towns who may be plotting to engage in similar attempts to illegally exclude, is the same: We will hold you accountable as well," Porrino said when the suit was announced earlier in October.
Agudath Israel of America has not yet returned a message.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.